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Quantum Mechanics : Historical Contingency and the Copenhagen Hegemony - James T. Cushing

Quantum Mechanics

Historical Contingency and the Copenhagen Hegemony

Paperback Published: 1st January 1994
ISBN: 9780226132044
Number Of Pages: 328

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Why does one theory "succeed" while another, possibly clearer interpretation, fails? By exploring two observationally equivalent yet conceptually incompatible views of quantum mechanics, James T. Cushing shows how historical contingency can be crucial to determining a theory's construction and its position among competing views.
Since the late 1920s, the theory formulated by Niels Bohr and his colleagues at Copenhagen has been the dominant interpretation of quantum mechanics. Yet an alternative interpretation, rooted in the work of Louis de Broglie in the early 1920s and reformulated and extended by David Bohm in the 1950s, equally well explains the observational data. Through a detailed historical and sociological study of the physicists who developed different theories of quantum mechanics, the debates within and between opposing camps, and the receptions given to each theory, Cushing shows that despite the preeminence of the Copenhagen view, the Bohm interpretation cannot be ignored. Cushing contends that the Copenhagen interpretation became widely accepted not because it is a better explanation of subatomic phenomena than is Bohm's, but because it happened to appear first.
Focusing on the philosophical, social, and cultural forces that shaped one of the most important developments in modern physics, this provocative book examines the role that timing can play in the establishment of theory and explanation.

Theory Construction and Selection
Formalism, Interpretation, and Understanding
Standard Quantum Theory
Bohm's Quantum Theory
Alternative Interpretations: An Illustration
Opposing Commitments, Opposing Schools
Competition and Forging Copenhagen
Early Attempts at Causal Theories: A Stillborn Program
The Fate of Bohm's Program
An Alternative Scenario?
Author Index
Subject Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226132044
ISBN-10: 0226132048
Series: Science & Its Conceptual Foundations S.
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 1st January 1994
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.5  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.45